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(506) 2223-1327        Published Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 238           E-mail us
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Chorus performances herald arrival of Yule season
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Despite the possibility of more rain, the Christmas season is arriving in San Jose's downtown.

Four choruses tonight and four more Friday night will provide seasonal selections.

The scene is at the Teatro Nacional, where Friday night, the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional also performs.

Then Saturday night it's the turn of the Orquesta Sinfónica Municipal de Cartago.

Tonight the Coro del Adulto Mayor of the Universidad de Costa Rica, Musicarte, the Coro Colegio Iribó and the Coro del Programa
Preuniversitario de Formación Musical at Universidad Nacional are on the program.

Friday appearing are the Coro de Niños de San Pablo de Heredia, the Coro Academia Carlos Luis Fallas, the Coro Juvenil del Instituto Nacional de Música and the Coro Universitario de la Universidad de Costa Rica.

Performances by the choruses begin at 5 p.m.

The Teatro Nacional is also where the best-known portal is on display. The portal is the Spanish name for the nativity scene.

The Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional's 8 p.m. symphony Friday will benefit those who suffered storm damage at the beginning of November. 

Country is plastered by another low pressure system
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Caribbean, the Pacific coast and the northern zone were suffering the onslaught of a low pressure system that caused widespread flooding.

Hundreds again were evicted from their homes, and many were in public shelters.

A group of tourists who were rafting were said to be trapped by rising water near Siquirres on the Río Pacuare. The Cruz Roja was trying to help them.

Men with heavy machinery made a daring rescue of a family of four that was stranded in a clump of trees in the flooded soccer field in Javillos.

A giant backhoe braved the rapidly flowing four-foot water to effect a rescue. The family was at home when a wall of water carried away their home and crushed it.

Ruta 32, the highway from San José to Limón was closed again by a landslide at Kilometer 22, just north of the capital. There was another slide further north, but police managed to keep one lane open.

Other highways were closed by slides. Some bridges were swept away, and other roadways were damaged. An inventory is expected to be made this morning.

The Río Sixaola was reported causing flooding in southeastern Costa Rica. Many of the other rivers
that empty into the Caribbean were reported to be at flood stage.

The national emergency commission issued alerts for Acosta, León Cortés, Tarrazú, Dota and Escazú, all in the province of San José and the cantons of Parrita, Aguirre, Golfito and Corredores in the province of Puntarenas.

There also were alerts for the entire Caribbean and the north Pacific coasts.

In some places in the northern zone the rain began at 9 a.m. Monday had continued through nightfall Wednesday. Many communities were under three feet of water.

However, the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional issues a favorable weather report for Sunday, which is election day for municipal offices in Costa Rica. But it predicted afternoon downpours for most of the country today.

The Cruz Roja said it helped open shelters in La Fortuna, Muelle de San Carlos, Matina, Cariari and La Vega de la Fortuna. The emergency commission opened shelters elsewhere, too.

The emergency commission alerts were mainly for communities that were in danger from possible slides or had experienced them during the heavy rains of the first days of November. In San Antonio de Escazú 23 persons lost their lives when a mountainside buried their homes. There still are threatening hills in Ciudad Colón and Aserrí.

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Our readers' opinions
Boycott will only help
current Managua regime

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

While I understand Mr, Twomey's desire to punish Ortega for his provocation of Costa Rica, his response of using a boycott plays right into the hands of the Managua regime. The basic ideology from the most center benign left to the farthest left is the need to create need.

Ortega benefits from further poverty. He benefits from the money of Nicas fleeing to Costa Rican banks. He benefits from Nicas leaving Nicaragua for brighter futures. Strife makes his ideology all the more desirable. Debasing currency is a first priority of the left. Read their own literature. He is not alone. We can see this in the U.S.A. today, Cuba since the 50's and in the streets of many European countries.

Trying to change Nicaragua is no one's business but the Nicaragüense. It is the fundamental error of "democracy building." What is happening on Costa Rica's northern frontier is Costa Rica's fault. They have the obligation of securing their frontier. Nicaragua is no more at fault for their provocation than México is at fault for illegal immigration.

Basic geopolitical physics dictate that voids are filled. It does not matter who is the bad guy. It matters that Costa Rica's inaction and inability to secure its sovereignty has helped advance geopolitical regional instability. Peace and diplomacy are vastly overrated. Costa Rica's use of international organizations adds up to nothing but inaction.

Costa Rica is now responsible for making the region more dangerous for all. Do not play into the hands of the left's need to create need.
George Chapogas
Playas del Coco

More money won't fix
country's crime problem

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Re: Chinchilla seeks a tax on corporations

Here we go again with our leaders stuffing their heads further into the sand. Citizens' security, are you kidding me. Just the idea of taxing “all legal corporations” is inane in itself. Do you mean that the little guy who has his used, over-priced and over-taxed-already car in a corporation will have to pay the same tax as say Super Compro, EPA, the casinos, PriceSmart, Hipermás, Burger King, etc..?

And to say that this is to pay for citizens' security is just another slap in the face. Why do these politicians continually think that throwing money at a problem will resolve it? I would be one of the first to say that something should be done to protect the citizenry, but why not look at the underlying causes of “crime gone wild.”

We, the readers, all know of the police corruption. The ridiculous new over-priced fines that enables police to have a raise just by bribing the offenders. How about looking at the existing laws and the revolving-door policy for criminals, especially the juveniles.

Why don't they ask China for another 80 million dollars to build a new prison next to the new stadium to put some of these criminals away. And now, who is telling the police officials to reduce the information to the public about crimes? This needs some very serious investigation. And only reporting the crimes of when a criminal is caught. I'm sure this will lead to a “way to go girl” for reducing crime.  And they are even scheduling time to talk about in-vitro fertilization. Someone please pinch me because I have to be dreaming this.

Tom Ploskina
Nuevo Arenal

Return illegal residents

Dear A. M. Costa Rica:

In addition to the proposed boycott of Nicaragua suggested by Mr. Twomey, the current disputes could be quickly ended by returning to Nicaragua all of the illegal Nicaraguans currently residing in Costa Rica.  If the authorities did so, it would completely disrupt the economy of Mr. Ortega and Comandante Cero's country and put an end to the whole conflict.  Of course, Costa Rica would have to endure loss of some farm and construction labor, but perhaps a "guest worker" program could be worked out for temporary special residency.

Dick Keim
San Rafael de Alajuela

Panamá gets $70 million
to fix deteriorated roads

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Inter-American Development Bank approved a $70 million loan to Panamá to reduce costs and travel time of the country’s main road network. The project includes a pilot component that seeks to ensure access to basic services to the most isolated communities.

The project foresees to have 850 kilometers of priority roads rehabilitated and 1,760 kilometers of the national road network, managed under performance-base maintenance, extended within five years. The project aims to an average reduction in vehicle operating costs in parts of the network of 3 percent and an average decrease in travel time on roads rehabilitated by the program of 10 percent.

The project was expanded with $10 million to include a pilot component for rehabilitation and maintenance of rural roads.

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!

From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 238

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New airport is part of Río San Juan development project
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Inter-American Development Bank is bankrolling a new airport that appears to be part of the development project in southeastern Nicaragua.

This is the area where Nicaraguan troops invaded Costa Rican territory to build a new mouth for the Río San Juan.

That may have taken Costa Rica officials by surprise, but the plan to build an airport just north of the invasion zone is old news.

The Nicaraguan government's outlined the plan in July 2009. Since then one bid has been opened, but the project has not been officially awarded.

The Nicaraguan daily La Prensa revisited the project in an article Tuesday. It said a firm with the name of  Edicro S.A is the apparent successful bidder to be general contractor for the project.

The full job is estimated at $14.7 million financed by the  Inter-American Development Bank. The developing agency is the nation's tourism organization, the Instituto Nicaragüense de Turismo. The project includes a 1,200-meter (3,937-foot) runway, two boarding areas, a control tower and terminal, among other improvements.

The airport project alone was priced at $7 million when outlined the plan in mid-2009. There are additional plans for development in the communities.

The site is in San Juan del Norte rather than the nearby Greytown because the selected site is higher in elevation, said La Prensa. The airport also would be suitable for Nicaraguan military aircraft.
The communities of about 1,900 persons subsist mainly on fishing and agriculture. The tourism plan envisions more than 30,000 air visitors a year, and other published reports liken the potential similar or better than Tortuguero, which is to the south in Costa Rica.

The key element to such a plan would be what the Nicaraguan troops and workers are doing. They have cleared trees dug a small ditch which locals in nearby Barra del Colorado predict will be scoured open by the flooding Río San Juan into a navigable channel. This plan eliminates some 30 kilometers of winding, silted-up and meandering river.

A new river mouth with quick access to the Caribbean gives air travelers something to do in the area, particularly if a large marina and lodging are developed along the interior section of the river. There is only one upscale hotel in San Juan del Norte now, the Rio Indio Lodge, which is said to be the best accommodations in the area.

What has not been announced is who might be ready to do further tourism development once the new river mouth and the new airport are assured.

The plan also gives another lever to Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, who can exert pressure on the  Inter-American Development Bank to cause Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to withdraw the troops.

Costa Rican officials have said the Nicaraguans have completed what they are calling a canal on the Isla Calero, Costa Rican territory. The remainder of the job appears to have been left to the river.

Once started, the new airport is expected to be finished in 18 months.

President Laura Chinchilla strikes a strong pose as she says that Costa Rica is not defenseless.
unhappy Ms. Chinchilla
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Country not defenseless, Ms. Chinchilla tells gathering
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla Miranda said Wednesday that just because Costa Rica does not have an army does not mean the country is defenseless.

She also called Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his advisers cowards when she said that only cowards are valiant with the defenseless.

The Nicaraguan press picked up that comment immediately. The newspapers in Managua also played up the fact that Ms. Chinchilla said she was boosting the police presence along the northern border. She also encouraged Costa Ricans to join the reserves of the Fuerza Pública.

She also promised that the country would not allow any more violations of its territory. Ortega has said Nicaraguans should have free passage on the Río Colorado, which is near Isla Calero where his troops have invaded. The Río Colorado is well within Costa Rican territory.

Ms. Chinchilla is bringing her message to Argentina today for a meeting of Latin American heads of state in Mar del Plata. René Castro, the Costa Rican foreign minister met with diplomats from the United States, Russia and China
Tuesday. He is working hard to dispute the characterization by Managua that the issue in northern Costa Rica is a border dispute. He and Ms. Chinchilla call the action an invasion.

Castro also has a date with the Organization of American States next week where he will seek sanctions against Nicaragua.

Ms. Chinchilla's talk Wednesday was at the 62nd anniversary of the abolition of the Costa Rican army in the Museo Nacional in San José.

"A disarmed country is not synonymous with a country territorially defenseless," she said, adding that her administration is seeking without rest resources to finance a civilian and professional police force, well equipped and trained. Her legislative aides have submitted a corporate tax bill proposal to the legislature to raise these funds.

She said she has asked the security minister to beef up troop strength along the Río San Juan, which marks the border.

In the audience were men and women who had fought with José Figueres Ferrer in the Costa Rican civil war. It was Figueres who abolished the army in his role as president of the subsequent junta.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 238

Cinchona arises anew
Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias photo
New homes for earthquake victims seem to be peas from the same pod

Workers are making headway at Nueva Cinchona site

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Nueva Cinchona now has 50 roofed homes as contractors close in on the final stages of the project. These are dwellings for those who lost theirs in the January 2009 earthquake.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias said Wednesday that 72 homes were up out of the 83 planned and some are nearly finished with glass and doors.

This is a 3.1 billion colon investment for the government. Critics have complained about the time it took to get the job rolling. Most of the quake victims were living either with family and friends or in rough plywood shacks put in in the days following the disaster.
The location is north of Heredia in the mountains along the Río Sarapiquí. More than 250 workers are on the job, and they are divided into specialties. Some pour the concrete, others do the walls and some do the roofs, said the commission.

The commission said that the electrical system soon would be installed and that a sewage treatment plan was expected to be put in soon.

Cinchona was on a ridge, and much of the community was destroyed when the ridge gave way during the quake. The main highway also collapsed trapping passing cars.

The new location is on flat farmland. Other community improvements are planned, and the commission said it is receiving advice from future residents.

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U.N. economics predictions
see insufficient growth

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A United Nations report unveiled Wednesday paints a gloomy picture of the performance of the global economy next year, with growth projected to be a meagre 3.1 per cent, followed by 3.5 per cent in 2012 – rates that are insufficient to spur the recovery of the jobs that were lost during the economic crisis.

The lack of employment continues to put a damper on economic recovery, according to the "World Economic Situation and Prospects 2011"  prepared by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development and the five U.N. economic commissions.

Between 2007 and the end of 2009, at least 30 million jobs were lost worldwide as a result of the global financial crisis, the report, previewed in New York, says. It adds that efforts by governments to embark on fiscal austerity can only further suppress the prospects for a faster recovery of employment.

“We are not out of the woods yet and still major risks are looming,” said Rob Vos, the director of the Development Policy and Analysis Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, who led the team of U.N. economists who prepared the report.

“The road to recovery – we expect to be long and bumpy still. The speed of the recovery as we have seen starting in the middle of 2009 has started to decelerate in the middle of this year particularly owing to weaknesses in the major developed economies, but we also expect that to drag down the growth in developing countries,” Vos told a news conference at U.N. headquarters.

The report says that serious risks to the global economy include waning cooperative spirit among major economies, which has weakened the effectiveness of responses to the crisis. It notes that uncoordinated monetary responses have become a source of turbulence and uncertainty in financial markets.

Suggestions offered in the report that might lead to sustainable recovery include providing additional fiscal stimulus and redesigning the stimulus and other economic policies to lend a stronger orientation towards measures that directly support job growth, reduce income inequality and strengthen sustainable production capacity on the supply side.

Other options include finding greater synergy between fiscal and monetary stimulus, while counteracting damaging international spill-over effects in the form of increased currency tensions and volatile short-term capital flows; ensure that sufficient and stable development finance is made available for developing countries; and finding ways for credible and effective policy coordination among major economies.

Among developed economies, the United States has been on a recovery trajectory, yet the pace of that rebound has been the weakest in the country’s post-recession experience, according to the report. At 2.6 per cent in 2010, growth in the U.S. is expected to moderate further to 2.2 per cent in 2011 before improving slightly to 2.8 per cent in 2012.

That pace of growth is not expected to make much of a dent in unemployment rates, and recovering the jobs lost in the U.S. during the crisis would take at least another four years.

Prospects for Europe and Japan are even dimmer, the report notes. Assuming continued, albeit moderate, recovery in Germany, the gross domestic product growth in the Euro area is forecast to virtually stagnate at 1.3 per cent in 2011 and 1.9 per cent in 2012.

Japan’s initially strong rebound, fuelled by net export growth, started to falter in the course of 2010 as a result of persistent deflation and elevated public debt. The Asian country’s economy is expected to grow by a meagre 1.1 per cent in 2011 and 1.4 per cent in 2012.

Developing countries in Asia, led by China and India, continue to show the strongest growth performance, but will moderate to around 7 per cent in 2011 and 2012, according to the report.

Growth in Latin America is projected to remain relatively strong at around 4 per cent, though less robust than the growth of 5.6 per cent estimated for 2010. Brazil, the engine of regional growth, continues with strong domestic demand to boost export growth of neighbouring countries. The sub-region also benefits from strengthened economic ties with the emerging economies in Asia.
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Wikileaks figures face
growing legal problems

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Army analyst accused of downloading classified diplomatic cables toWikiLeaks has been in custody since May. And the Australian founder of the WikiLeaks Web site faces his own legal difficulties.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in the midst of a four-day overseas tour, says she is reassuring other foreign ministers that Wikileaks will not obstruct American diplomacy.

But what U.S. authorities want to obstruct is the freedom of Bradley Manning, the American soldier who allegedly leaked the classified information. It's still unclear what they'll do with Julian Assange, the man who published it on Wikileaks. 

Assange is in hiding, the subject of a worldwide manhunt. The international crime agency Interpol has him on its most wanted list.  Sweden seeks him on sexual assault charges.  And in the United States "There's an ongoing criminal investigation into the leaking and the posting of all these documents," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

"We are taking aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information," said Mrs. Clinton.

What charge might the U.S. file?  Espionage, for one. Revealing classified information.  But consider this:  the act is nearly 100 years old.  It's never been tested against modern electronic, media. And if it is? Legal scholars say the public's right to know would be the defense

There is plenty of evidence, 250,000 documents.  But with espionage, the government must prove that the classified information damaged national defense. And that might reveal other secrets.

Pat Rowan is a former U.S. assistant attorney general for national security:

"The most harmful documents, the ones that pain the U.S. government for them to be in public, are the same ones that someone in a trial would have to stand up and point to and say, 'Here's why it's harmful.' That further shoves the knife in further and turns the handle a bit," said Rowan.

But Assange is not on U.S. soil.  He is an Australian, thought to be hiding in England.  Rowan says officials should ignore public and foreign pressure to charge him.

"You wait for two or three or four or five years for him to go from a place where he thinks he's safe," said Rowan. "Perhaps he decides to travel around the world because his mother is sick, he goes through an airport in a country where you have good connections with and he's detainted there and brought to the U.S. That's the way the government usually prosecutes these kinds of cases."

Meantime, Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning is in military custody south of Washington.  He is charged with leaking classified documents.  Manning could be court martialed and, if convicted, jailed for several decades.

Jonathan Tracy will be an observer at Manning's trial.  He's a former judge advocate with the U.S. Army.

"It's a serious case so if it's true that he did do this, the military commander is going to consider that a significant breach of law and will want to charge him at a court martial," said Tracy.

Manning is supported by at least two Web sites.  And in addition to his military defense attorney, he has hired a former Army lawyer as a civilian counsel.  Manning has been in jail for six months.

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